Exploring the City: The High Line

Can the High Line be my new home? Please? No?

Darn.

A couple of days ago I decided to spend a “tourist” day with my mom in the city. While I did not grow up a New York City child, I have always considered it to be a second home. Some of my family as well as friends live there and I have had some incredible and memorable experiences that I could never have in the suburbs. Since I am taking a photography class at the Pratt Institute I have been in a perfectly strategic area for good eats and good sights.  My mom and I saw a Broadway play, went to a museum and even had some Junior’s cheesecake. While the celebrity spotting at the Normal Heart (Hugh Jackman and Ben Stiller!) might have been one of the major highlights, walking on the High Line was perfect as well.

The High Line was not always meant to be an oasis in the concrete jungle. Originally it was constructed to elevate the freight trains off of the streets. As we all know, space is extremely hard to come by in the city. When there was no room on the streets for the trains the city did what it does best, it built up. But times have changed and the High Line was no longer needed for its train purposes. So stepped in landscape architects James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Now there is grass, beautiful plant life and seating perfect for strolling or enjoying a snack. The space plays on a fantasy of sorts; the train tracks that at one time were inaccessible are now a place to just enjoy yourself. I think the most special aspect to this space is its ability to calm and bring your attention to the beauty in the city. The combination of the nature with the complex and diverse landscape of the West Side was something to enjoy.

But a city destination would be nothing without the eats. Certain food areas were closed for an event the day I went but nothing was going to stop me from trying a La Newyorkina paleta. La Newyorkina started at the Hester street fair last summer serving flavored ice pops, or paletas, inspired by Mexican flavors. Every day there is something different, but familiar to the stand are flavors such as mango-chile, cucumber-lime, avocado, and hibiscus just to name a few. The day I went the options were horchata and Avocado. horchata it was. The paleta was a creamy beige color and had the perfect consistency between milky ice cream and icy sorbet. I have never had horchata before but a quick listen to Vampire Weekend made me familiar with the name. horchata is usually served in drink form at Mexican restaurants. It is made in a variety of ways but the most popular is usually prepared with ground almonds or rice. The paleta I had on the High Line tasted to me like a combination between Chai and Dulce de Leche. It was slightly sweet but there was definite spice to it. It melted only slightly quicker than my pace in eating it; it was delicious.

While I will be on the lookout for horchata the next time I venture to a Mexican restaurant for now I can enjoy simple bowls of hot horchata Rice Pudding. This recipe is spiced up with delicious flavor. The burnt caramel sauce adds even more flavor. Adjust the mix-ins according to your liking. I don’t think much harm could be done with some chopped dried apricots, raisins or even coconut.

Oh yeah, and I could not help it but include some of my pictures from the walk on the High Line. The nature juxtaposed with the architecture. Beyond amazing.

Check here for a Paletas cookbook and more information on La Newyorkina: http://lanewyorkina.com/Home.html

Hot Horchata Rice Pudding

  •     Two cups of water
  •     1 cup white rice (Aborio recommended)
  •     4 tablespoons of butter
  •     2/3 cups of white sugar
  •     1 tablespoon brown sugar
  •     2 tablespoons half and half
  •     2 cups of milk, whole milk preferably
  •     Medium egg, whisked together
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •     Zest of half a lemon
  •     Zest of half a lime
  •     Dashes of nutmeg

1.    In a saucepan bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the rice and reduce the heat to low. Cook for twenty minutes covered making sure to stir once in a while to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

2.   Meanwhile make the quick caramel sauce. In a small saucepan let three tablespoons of butter, 1/3 cup of sugar and one tablespoon of brown sugar melt and reduce for six minutes. The ingredients should combine together, deepen in color and become frothy. Finish by incorporating two tablespoons of half and half. Pour the caramel into a heatproof bowl and let cool. The caramel will be very hot so do not lick the pot. (Although very tempting)

3.    After the rice is cooked and has absorbed all of the water add 1/3 cup of sugar and 1½ cups of milk. Stir to combine and allow this to cook down for twenty more minutes.

4.   After the mixture had thickened and the rice has absorbed the milk mix in ½ cup more milk and the whisked egg.

5.    Mix in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, one tablespoon of butter and both zests.

6.    Serve the rice pudding warm in bowls with small spoonfuls of the caramel on top.

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